The release of a draft of the Senate GOP health care plan hasn’t brought Missouri’s two chamber members any closer together on the issue.
Like every single member of both parties, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt are hunkered down with their own caucuses. Republicans are dead set on repealing and replacing the current program, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while Democrats insist that it be repaired.
GOP member Roy Blunt says the current system, created by the other party, is collapsing as insurance companies flee the exchanges.
“There’ll be multiple states that only have one company that’s willing to offer a product in the Obamacare market” says Blunt. “And those are the decisions that this congress and this president had nothing to do with. This is a failing system. It needs to be repealed and replaced with a system that works better.”
McCaskill admits significant improvements need to be made to the ACA, also called Obamacare, but claims Republicans have blocked any progress for the sake of personal gain.
“Our colleagues were interested in using Obamacare, or ACA, as a political two-by-four” McCaskill says on MSNBC. They wanted to win elections with it. Because healthcare’s hard. And obviously we made mistakes, and things do need to be fixed.”
Blunt says the shortcomings of the healthcare exchange in Missouri illustrate how the ACA is beyond repair. “25 counties, at this point, appear that they’ll have nobody offering insurance. With a law on the books that says you have to buy insurance, even though that insurance wouldn’t be available, obviously this isn’t working.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City has announced it will be leaving Missouri, leaving no options for people who qualify for subsidies under the ACA.
Senator McCaskill has offered a bill to ensure that individuals in counties with no insurance can buy it in the same marketplace where congressional staffers get their policies, “DC Health Link”.
“Let them buy on the same exchange with their subsidies that members of Congress use” says McCaskill. “Our staffs are all over the country. These are national plans. What an elegant fix, that people could come and use the same process that members of Congress and their staff use to get health insurance.”
The draft of the Republican Senate plan released Thursday shows a bill similar to the one passed by House Republicans last month, with one key change. The Senate version keeps in place the ACA’s subsidies to help people pay for individual coverage.
Both bills make deep cuts to Medicaid, although the Senate draft is more drastic. Both measures also ditch the Obamacare requirement for most people to purchase insurance, and eliminate its taxes on wealthier people.
McCaskill and Blunt have offered early observations of the upper chamber’s initial offering.
McCaskill remains frustrated Democrats have been left out of the negotiating process. “At first glance, this looks like exactly what you’d expect when the future of healthcare gets negotiated in a secret backroom deal—you get a bill that hikes costs for working families, strips protections from Missourians who’ve been sick before, and slices critical resources for rural healthcare and anti-opioid efforts.”
Blunt remains committed to scrapping the ACA. “I will carefully review the final legislation with a focus on how it will help address the problems Missourians are facing under Obamacare. American families need a more reliable and affordable health care system, and this bill takes important steps in that direction.”
At this point Senate Republicans, who have a slim majority in the chamber, plan to negotiate among themselves and bring the healthcare plan to a floor vote before the Congressional Fourth of July break.